As an Accessory Design student, I have always related weaving to a profession. My perspective of weaving as yet another profession changed as I entered Shuttles & Needles studio and saw clients weaving joyfully and enthusiastically. I realized that the studio is a hub for hobbyists, artists, and designers to come together to explore their creativity and create beautiful pieces of fabric. One such unique approach I found in the studio was their "Brainweaves” program, which took weaving to school children.
In this program, hand weaving is used as a medium rather than weaving solely as a craft form, emphasising conceptual understanding of the numerous areas the children learn including maths, science, social sciences, music, and art.
The New Education Policy, implemented by the government has also emphasized the importance of hands-on learning among school children. Hence, the studio wanted to provide an opportunity for children to have a hands-on experience with weaving to create something beautiful with their own hands. The studio curates programs based on the school’s needs.
The “Brainweaves” program is implemented in modules in schools and at the end of each module, the children come out with an originally designed fabric based on their learning. Given the timelines and the purpose of the program which is to develop conceptual understanding, students are encouraged to limit the weaving to about 10” swatch rather than weaving a whole product. The studio thought that it might be a good idea to convert these swatches into functional products as the children will be proud and happy to showcase their work through a product.
My role as an accessory designer started here. I had to create a unique product line that celebrates the creativity of the school children with the woven pieces they made.
I looked at the swatches for a long time. I carefully analyzed them to determine the best way to incorporate them into a product. The swatches were colourful, vibrant, and full of creativity. Each swatch was unique and represented the personality of the child who created it. The products incorporated with the children's creations had to focus on the swatch they created rather than the product itself. After conceptualizing, ideating, sketching, and prototyping, I was able to create a product line of 7 products. The product line included fanny packs, lunch bags, Stationery pouches, trays, medal holders, fabric origami, and puzzles. Each product was created considering it had to be functional and fun to use since it is designed for kids. Each product is unique, with carefully incorporated swatches to create a stunning design. The products had to be a reflection of the children's creativity.
The product line is inspired by kids' favourite animals- rabbits and elephants. All the products have a fun and playful element included in them. For example, the lunch bag, inspired by elephants, has a stuffed elephant head that can rotate 360 degrees.
One unique product in the collection is the puzzle. The swatches created by the children are cut into pieces. The puzzle has no one fixed solution to complete or achieve. Thus, letting kids explore their creativity in multiple ways. It makes them understand compositions, the effect of colour on emotions, colour interplay etc. on the puzzle.
For children, seeing their work transform into finished and functional products is a powerful validation of their creativity and hard work. Knowing that their designs will be noticed and appreciated by others is a source of great pride to them. This simple act of weaving has fostered confidence among the children and has such a positive impact on their self-esteem and sense of accomplishment.
Working with children has always been an area of interest to me. And this project was an absolute joy to me. The enthusiasm and excitement that the children brought to the project were contagious, and I enjoyed seeing their creativity in action. This project made me understand that this was an opener to the joy, weaving can bring to children. The project was not only fun but also a valuable learning experience for the children and more importantly for me.
Lakshana LN is a budding Accessory Designer from NIFT Chennai, pursuing her graduation project at Shuttles & Needles